DASSEL, MN Dassel Covenant Church has a new senior pastor. Darren Olson has been in pastoral ministry for more than 30 years, and has worked at a number of churches in Minnesota. Most recently, he spent six years at the Evangelical Covenant Church of International Falls prior to accepting the position in Dassel.
“My wife’s parents are in the southwest corner, in between Pipestone and Marshall. They are getting older and she would like to be closer,” Olson said. “Our daughter [Abigail] got married last fall and she lives in New Hope, and our other daughter [Alethia] is at Mankato [State University]. This opportunity came up, and we made the decision to move south.”
Olson and his wife, Brenda, have five children: Nathanael (26), Abigail (23), Nehemiah (21), Alethia (18), and Ezra (15).
Nathanael is a guitarist in a Christian rock band called Household. Abigail used to play guitar in the band, as well. Nehemiah, a pre-med student currently taking classes at the University of Duluth, plans to become a medical missionary. Alethia is in a business program at Mankato State University.
Living in Dassel is a central location, allowing the Olsons to maintain closer contact with their family.
Olson began his career as a youth pastor with Tentmakers youth ministry, which is based in Chanhassen.
“That’s how I actually met my wife Brenda, because she was a Tentmaker youth pastor, too. Then I went to seminary at Bethel Seminary [in St. Paul]. I was really in search of a denomination, which is when I discovered the Covenant Church which is a great church for people who want grace and truth to be emphasized.”
Olson noted that the denomination has a great deal of flexibility, allowing for differing views on how believers can express their faith, while at the same time holding firm to the core belief in the authority of the Bible. He cites baptism as an example. While some denominations take a specific stance on either adult baptism, infant baptism, or infant dedication, Olson said he is willing to baptize both adults and infants.
“Some people say, how can you do both? We allow each person to be led by their Biblical convictions, as long as it’s [within the spectrum of] historic orthodoxy.”
Making room for stylistic choices in church settings is something Olson believes is critical to reaching the next generation. He noted that church styles can change as the culture changes, without compromising essential Biblical truths.
“One of my particular giftings is helping churches embrace the necessary changes to be more effective at reaching a community for Christ,” Olson explained. “I really believe in young people. As long as they love Jesus, let them do it their way. It might not be the way I did it, or the generation before me did it, but what has really hurt the church in the long run is when we tell young people who are excited about Jesus that they have to do it the old way.”
Olson also has a heart for serving the local community.
“Spiritually mature Christians are actually willing to make sacrifices for people who are not yet followers of Jesus,” he said. “Whether it would be at Red Rooster Days, or a food shelf, or a ball game. That’s where Jesus would want us to be in the community. We have to take Jesus to the community, and it’s not necessarily with words. It’s with action.”
Looking ahead, Olson’s first sermons will be exploring what it means to be a warm and welcoming church, followed by an expository series in the book of Jonah, and then a series on gratitude in November.
There will be an open house Sunday, Sept. 23 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Dassel Covenant Church, 251 Lake Street. The community is encouraged to attend, meet Olson, and learn more about the church. A program is scheduled for 3 p.m., and refreshments will be provided.